September 5, 2011

First Day of School

AAAHHH!!! = my general state of mind for the day. So much confusion. So much French. So many people. I was really nervous this morning and changed my outfit three times. School started later at 1:30 and lasted until 4:30. The first day is just for meeting people and getting the textbooks. A huge reality shock hit me when we entered the school grounds. Everyone was clustered out front, all kissing on the cheeks, screaming with shrieks of recognition, and looking at the class lists. The general style for the girls is skinny jeans with a pretty top. I was the only girl with a backpack, not to mention a huge black bulky backpack. :P It was so crazy and loud. I finally met Céline and Marie Damelinecourt today. I've been talking with them for a long time online because there was a miscommunication and they thought that they were one of my host families. It was a good mistake because now I now two more people at my school. It's crazy to see someone in person after only knowing them by Internet. Marie-Armelle accompanied me the three flights of stairs and presented me to the teacher: Mme Massey. She wasn't what I would have expected for a Catholic school teacher. She has frizzy red hair, wears lots of colorful jewelry, and talks suuuuper fast. I hardly understand anything that class, let alone our homework. I'm not really obliged to do it because I'm foreign :) but I hope that the credits will work out for when I return. I didn't get to talk much with the 12 girls in my class. I sort of pictured it to be more welcoming and a day for icebreakers, but most of them already knew each other... so I felt like a loner until we went to get our books. Ah, our books. Craziest moment in a school. Everything in France is either very very organized or completely chaotic. This was completely chaotic. Hundreds of students were crammed into one hallway in a not-so-orderly line to get our textbooks for the year. I got to see Marie-Michelle, which was a relief, because I had someone to talk to slowly in French. Later though, I made some new friends after the class president talked to me and introduced me to some of our other classmates. I wasn't sure if it was her job to talk to me or if she wanted to, but she's really nice and I'm meeting her tomorrow at McDonalds before school to hang out a bit. After waiting within a mass of people called a "line" in France, we went out for our recess break. (Yes they have recess in France! :D) and I got to meet some more people and see more of the school. Sooo chaotic. Instead of a bell to signal the end of class, they have loud music that plays over the speak. I was really confused when it first rang, thinking someone's cell phone had gone off. I finally got my books an hour later. So heavy. I have like seven of them, but I won't have to carry them to school everyday because I have different classes each day. Some days I have a two hour lunch, some days I leave an hour earlier, some days I come to school later. It all depends. Anyways, after school ended I was again engulfed in a huge mass of students. Unlike the schools in the US, the kids didn't hop on their buses or cars. Instead they crowded around chatting and smoking. Yep. Everyone smokes here. So many students just got out their cigarettes right then and there. Smoking isn't a huge deal in France like it is in America; almost everyone does it here. I plan not to. I've seen enough smoldered smoking-consequenced pig lungs to know better.

 After ranting about my day to Marie-Michelle and figuring out what happened at school, I ate a pain au chocolat then talked with my parents for the first time on iChat (it's like Skype, but for Macs). It was nice to see them. I had so much to say and not much time. I accidentally said some French words instead of English. It was pretty cool to mix them up. Maybe I'm getting closer to being fluent? Maybe?

Two hours after school got out, we went to the Cambrai Rotary club meeting. It was way more formal than I expected and a lot more fun. In Snoqualmie, the Rotary meetings aren't that formal and we sometimes play games, but here all the men were dressed in tuxes and it took place in a beautiful castle-like building. There were guys who walked around with platters of pretty pastries and champagne. I shook so many hands tonight. They were all really nice and the president man looks sort of Spanish with a deep tan and gold rings. :) I had to make a speech and show them 20 something pictures of my life back home. It went better than I thought. Apparently my fumbling with some French words with an American accent was "charming." They loved the pictures of the mountains and lakes in my town. It went super well and I am excited to go back there again. I love fancy, formal outings. It feels so medieval sometimes... you know minus the PC computer that takes 20 minutes to work and show the slideshow.

I didn't do my homework because I don't know what the homework is. Tomorrow is picture day and I have to get up early to meet Manon (the class president) Hopefully tomorrow things will calm down and I can make more friends. In France it's harder to make friends, but easier to keep them. It's the opposite in America where it's super easy to make friends, but harder to keep them for long. I've been told that and now I believe it. I'm exhausted and good night.

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